Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1904. Item #03863
American Printing of 'Peter Rabbit'
In the Original Dust Jacket
POTTER, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Altemus' Wee Books for Wee Folks. Thirty-one Illustrations. Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, 1904.
First Edition Printed in America, third format (printed ca. 1908).
Sixteenmo (5 3/8 x 4 inches; 136 x 102 mm.). -127, [3, blank] pp., including thirty-one color plates after the designs by Potter, and Peter Rabbit vignette on half-title. Text printed in blue.
Publisher's pale green cloth, cover stamped pictorially in black, yellow, blue, and red, spine and front cover lettered in red. Plain end papers. Original beige dust jacket, printed in black, red and green, with Peter Rabbit image on front panel, "Altemus' Wee Books Peter Rabbit No. 3" on spine and rear panel with Altemus advertisement "Atemus' Illustrated Wee Books for Wee Folks" listing six titles, the last being "The Robber Kitten". Jacket very slightly chipped at spine extremities, with minimal loss. An excellent example of an early American printing of Peter Rabbit.
"When Frederick Warne first published Peter Rabbit in London [in 1902], they sent a few copies to their firm in New York where, due to a misunderstanding, they were unfortunately sold before copyright was properly obtained. And for that reason the copyright for the book remains to this day in 'public domain' in the United States" (Quinby, p. 18).
Altemus was the first to take advantage of this situation, copying the text and illustrations from Warne and issuing in 1904 not only the first pirated edition, but also the first edition printed in America. This edition was reprinted for several years without changing the "1904" date on the title-page. "Aletemus published Peter Rabbit in three different formats, The first format which is the rarest was published only in 1904" This little book had a gray cloth over floral boards, front cover with an oval color illustration of Peter Rabbit pasted-on. "By the end of 1904, Altemus had begun publishing the second format of the Wee Books for Wee Folks Series. Initially the book had a green cover… The inside of the book was identical to the first edition book. Between 1908-1912, Altemus published Peter Rabbit with a whitish/beige designed cover. This latter book dropped the decorated end papers. The illustrations are the same for the first three books. These books also have the curious set up such that there is a picture opposite of each page of text and then two blank pages. By 1917 a third format of the second edition was published. This blue book dropped the blank pages and the illustrations are different from preceding volumes. This book and all that followed it had 63 pages. The previous books had 123 pages." (www.henryaltemus.com).
Quinby 2c; Linder, p. 109; V&A 1640 (Beatrix Potter's own copy).